Kate Elliott wrote a much ballyhooed series called Crown of Stars years ago that I read with hope that it would be a series and new author I would enjoy. Instead, the story just octopused, growing arms and spreading ink into the water of the story so that there were more and more characters and plot lines to track. Add to that the fact that her characters' growth was marked by a series of stupid mistakes or mishaps and I just lost interest after the third book (I think the series had 5 books).
I tried Elliott again with this YA about a young woman who lives in an AU post-Roman Europe with very scattered tribes-- Celts, Phoenicians, Africans of various tribes, Romans, and varying kinds of magic, none of which is really explained. The setting is 20 years post-war, and the heroine, Catherine, is the niece and elder girl in a househould of information merchants/spies.
And then the plot begins. Catherine has some kind of spirit world powers and the "cold magicians" (scary, foreboding) have some unexplained interest in her. They send an unsympathetic person to fetch her and bring her to them, and the action all starts. I didn't dislike Catherine-- objectively she is drawn as knowledgeable and she adapts to her circumstances as best as she can and at times is pretty badass, but the backstory for her skills is pretty tossaway, and it's hard at times to empathize with her.
There are interesting characters who arise as the action begins to gallop along, but it's the same formula-- mishaps, mistakes, misadventures, friendly & hostile strangers, and the unwinding of something with no explanations or hints and little explanation or inner life of the characters drawn out on the page to give me a reason to continue reading.
Maybe I just don't like Elliott's writing, and think that she doesn't do enough to make her characters emotionally resonant. But I've put down other Epic Fantasy series for the same reasons before, which is this-- if you can't even begin to tell me (or hint) where the series is going at least halfway through the first book, you're not going to capture my interest. I skipped to the end to find out what would happen, thought-- hunh, that's unexpected-- and decided I wouldn't continue because there had been too much else going on in the book for any of the too-many threads in the book to have satisfying led to the ending's cliffhanger.
I'm going to leave this one unfinished and leave the rest of the series alone.
Nook HD+ ebook purchased from B & N e-shop.